Reflections on Church planting Thailand
Report by Henry & Lydia George
In August 2015 we moved to Thailand as a church planting team. This is was an experience like no other! All the challenges of adjusting to changes in culture, spiritual atmosphere, language and climate made us rely on God in a way we have never done before. The joy, however, of seeing God use us in our vulnerability, and touch people’s lives, built our faith incredibly.
It was a huge honour and privilege to be released and supported by Ichthus: to take the heart, theology and values of Ichthus to a part of the world which so desperately needs it. Every day of our four years in Thailand we could feel the prayers supporting us and releasing more of God’s power in us and through us. Praise God for the ability to text the Prayer Community every Tuesday and Thursday!
We knew that God had sent us to Thailand for a specific time, so we had to trust Him that He would send in people to work with us and then carry the work forward as we returned to the UK. When Ben and Jaa joined our team it soon became clear that God was at work in their lives and that God had led them to us. Their greatest desire was to see people won for Jesus in the city, and as they joined Ichthus Bangkok the fire for radical church began to burn in their hearts.
There is so much we could say about being a team through the last few months of our time there. It often felt like a series of mountains to climb – both hard and exhausting to get up there but absolutely amazing to reach the peaks to look around at what God is doing as we walked together with Him. While we were preparing to hand over leadership of the church, we were unexpectedly given notice by the landlord of the church building, and suddenly had to find a new place and move everything! But God is faithful and provided all we needed for this challenge and the many others that came our way, and our confidence in Him grew stronger.
In July 2019, just a week before we got on the plane to fly back to the UK, we were able to take our first weekend away as a church. We stayed near a river towards the border with Laos and we baptised five people! It was a huge inspiration as Jaa and others encouraged the new believers to be free from fear as they left the worship of idols and turned to Jesus with their entire lives, with direct testimonies from their own experiences.
The celebration meal after the baptisms was a delicious BBQ with the whole congregation lending a hand cooking and serving each other. It was a precious time of community that we will treasure forever.
On our final weekend we had to move out of our house. The task seemed impossible, but it became a day of fun as Ben, Jaa and a whole load of congregation members (including some of those who were baptised) arrived at our house to help pack things up, drop things off to give away and clean the place from top to bottom. On our last Sunday we did a wedding blessing for an older couple who wanted to renew their vows to each other. We felt this was a sign of God’s promises and faithfulness over the church for the years ahead.
Keep praying for Ichthus Bangkok as they face the pressures of ‘lockdown’ and Coronavirus. In this first year back in the UK we were planning to visit regularly and take a mission team out in April 2020. This has all had to be put on hold, and they are experiencing the same difficulties that churches are facing all over the world. Many of the poorest people in the congregation do not have wifi or smart phones, and so online services are a challenge. Pray for new believers, those who are on the edges of the congregation, and for Ben and Jaa as they continue in their first year of leadership.